Mallaig’s Pawel is king of the mountains after completing the UK Big 3

Pawel and wife Ashley celebrate his completion of the UK Big 3 in Keswick.

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A Polish athlete living in Mallaig has completed one of Britain’s most demanding endurance challenges, claiming to be the first from his country to do so.

Pawel Cymbalista ran the UK Big 3 mountain rounds, which covers 187 miles, 113 mountain summits and 83,000ft of ascent, in under 12 months and each in a sub 24 hour time.

The Lochaber Athletic Club member has trained for many years in Glen Nevis and Glenfiinnan and when lockdown struck in March 2020 decided to focus his training on the Big 3 Challenge which takes in mountain ranges in Scotland, England and Wales.

‘It is a huge personal achievement for me. From running local hills to completing The UK Big 3,’ he told the Lochaber Times.

Each round is an ultra-distance classic in its own right and Pawel’s adventures began in August 2020 in Lochaber.

Named after the first man to complete it, the Charlie Ramsay Round, also known as the Scottish Classical Round, took Pawel to 24 mountain tops, including Ben Nevis, starting and finishing at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. The route is 90km long with 8,534m total ascent.

The round is divided into legs, with the first finishing at Loch Treig Dam, the second finishing at Loch Eilde Mor above Kinlochleven and the third heading back to the Youth Hostel. Pawel completed the round in 23 hours and 17 minutes on a hot day.

In May this year, Pawel switched his attention to Wales where he completed the Paddy Buckley Round, 98 kms long, 8,534m total ascent over 47 mountain tops, in 22 hours 48 minutes.

And on July 18, the Challenge was completed when Pawel conquered the Bob Graham Round, 97kms long, 8,229m total ascent and 42 mountain tops in the Lake District.

He completed this round in 21 hours 43 minutes and was met in Keswick by his proud wife Ashley, who was unable to attend the first two due to having to stay at home and look after their daughters Maiya, 10, and Freya, three.

Pawel, who works for Mowi’s harvest station in Mallaig, said: ‘It was absolutely amazing to have her there.

‘Due to family commitments she never managed to witness me doing and finishing the other rounds and finally we managed in the Lake District.’

Pawel had plenty of other support during each round with a large team making sure all he had to focus on was the run.

‘The difficulty finishing these rounds with a support team is the logistics and time schedules,’ he added.

‘You have to make sure people are in the right place at the right time which makes it even a bigger challenge.’

Pawel thanks Scott Brown, Ross Coles, Jim Loudon, Markus Mertens, Helen Smith, Corrina Mertens (Scotland); Andy Gibbons, John Parkin, Steve Rhodes, David Taylor, Warren Renkel, Sally Parkin (Wales); Adam Armata, Andrew Jackson, Steve Rhodes, Ross Coles, Ian Oldham, David Taylor, John Parkin, Maria and his wife Ashley (England) for all their support.